FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 17 University of Arkansas women's golf team is in the right frame of mind entering today's NCAA Louisville Regional.
The Razorbacks completed their finals last week and enter the postseason with their sights set on another run at the NCAA title under 14th-year Coach Shauna Taylor.
"This is the first year that we actually have finished finals before we head to NCAA regionals," Taylor said. "So that's a bit nice to kind of have the academic piece behind us."
The Razorbacks reached the final eight for match play on their home course at Blessings Golf Club in 2019, the last year the championships were held, and are eager to make it to the NCAA Championships to be held May 21-26 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Six teams and three individuals will advance to the championships from each of four NCAA regionals.
Arkansas will tee off at hole No. 10 today at 8 a.m. Central as the fifth seed at the University of Louisville Golf Club in Simpsonville, Ky. The Razorbacks, playing in a regional for the 18th consecutive season, are paired with Texas and Texas Tech.
The other NCAA regional sites are the University Club in Baton Rouge, hosted by LSU; the Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio; and the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Razorbacks had to battle to reach match play at the SEC championships two weeks ago, with junior Brooke Matthews' birdie putt on the final hole sealing the No. 8 seed. They were eliminated the next day in a 3-2 loss to No. 1 seed LSU.
"We've seen a lot of good things leading up, and I know we haven't seen our best golf yet," Matthews said. "We're just ready to keep fighting on at our regional."
The top seeds at the regional are No. 1 South Carolina, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Auburn, No. 16 Texas and the Razorbacks.
Matthews, of Rogers, will play in the No. 1 spot once again after a strong season in which she notched three top-five finishes, including a win at the inaugural Blessings Collegiate Invitational in October. She also made the cut at the Augusta National Women's Amateur and finished in a tie for 22nd place.
Arkansas will play the same lineup it had for SECs, with sophomores Ela Anacona, Julia Gregg and Kajal Mistry, and freshman Cory Lopez joining Matthews. Freshman Miriam Ayora will accompany the team as an alternate.
Taylor and Matthews think the Razorbacks are primed to peak in the postseason.
"I think individually we've had a lot of great rounds of golf through this season," Taylor said. "I think at the Blessings, we kind of put it all together that week. Then we've seen glimpses of it at each event from everybody.
"We've had great rounds from Kajal and Ela and obviously Brooke and Cory Lopez. I just think in our sport it's about hamming and egging it very well and making sure if somebody has an off day the other four come through. That's how a team in golf works."
Said Matthews, "When I say we haven't played our best golf, I've seen a lot of great golf but we haven't necessarily put it together. I think in my eyes somewhere I see the potential of this team. So we've been waiting for it all year and we know it's coming this week and we're confident."
Matthews is the only Razorback to have played the University of Louisville Golf Club, in a junior golf tournament years ago.
"From what I remember, really thick rough," she said. "It's a really pure course, good ball-strikers course, good tee-off course. So I think that sets up well for our team. Somewhat similar to what we've seen before."
Arkansas women’s golf
at NCAA Regionals
What NCAA Louisville Regional
Where University of Louisville Golf Club, Simpsonville, Ky.
Course data 6,289 yards (par 71)
Arkansas lineup (stroke average) Brooke Matthews (72.22), Cory Lopez (73.70), Ela Anacona (73.54), Kajal Mistry (74.45), Julia Gregg (74.10), alternate Miriam Ayora (75.67)